Candidates for Dakota County Commissioner District 2 primary election in 2022.

2022 Dakota County Commissioner Primary Election: Positive Change

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In Dakota County, the District 2 county commissioner—representing West St. Paul, South St. Paul, and parts of Inver Grove Heights—is on the ballot this year. Three candidates are running in the primary for the position. The top two in the primary will advance to the general election in November. We’ve asked the candidates a series of questions to see where they stand on the issues. We’ll share one question and the responses at a time leading up to the primary election on August 9. See our 2022 primary voter’s guide for more.

Previously, we asked about the candidates’ top issues, housing policy, and public safety. This time we’re asking how the candidates can make Dakota County better. There’s also a series of yes/no questions about basic political positions in our printable voter’s guide.

How will you make Dakota County better? What specific strategies or policies can you put in place to create positive change?

We posed this question to all candidates. Here are their responses:

Joe Atkins

(campaign site)

Dakota County has become one of the nation’s only debt-free counties during my six years as County Commissioner, while also being named the best county in the country for public safety and public health. This, however, does not mean our work is done. As described above, there is still plenty of work underway to continue to improve public safety and public health, while also
enhancing our county road system, parks, trails and libraries. I also believe communication can always be improved. While I have nearly 9,000 constituents who already receive my free monthly e-newsletter filled with local news, events and surveys, I am always happy to add to the recipient list. To sign up, readers can email me at

Jimmy Francis

(campaign site)

What I will bring to the county is energy with a focus on action. Energy behind mental wellness, currently our county provides funds enough for a safety net or crisis intervention. We need to invest in people and provide robust and impactful tailored services for people experiencing mental health emergencies and provide for Mental Health Wellness. Action behind this would look out 25 years and bring in experts to help draft the plan that would include reaching out to hospital systems around the world and use the debt free status to leverage investment from private systems into Dakota County, growing the tax base and working to address mental wellness. The work Jimmy Francis will do for district #2 will be leveraged for the entire county and would make it an even better place to live and West St. Paul, South St. Paul and Inver Grove Heights’ voices will be heard.

John Wheeler

(no campaign site)

While Dakota County has historically achieved favorable fiscal ratings, more can be done to continue receiving such ratings. All proposals should be subject to a cost-benefit analysis. If a proposed initiative cost outweighs the benefit to a vast number of residents, the initiative should be scrapped.  

Vote on August 9

The primary election is on Tuesday, August 9. Learn more about where and how to vote. You can also vote early with an absentee ballot, either by mail or by stopping at the Dakota County offices.

See our 2022 primary voter’s guide for more on the candidates and other races.

Thank you to the candidates for taking the time to respond to our questions.

Support West St. Paul Reader to ensure local election coverage can continue.

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